Why BMW Focuses on Beautiful Concours-Friendly Concept Cars Over Supercars

bmw skytop being built in garage
Why BMW Focuses on Concept Cars Over SupercarsBIRGIT BITTERMANN

If you want to erupt a group of car enthusiasts into a turbulent debate, questioning whether BMW has ever produced a proper supercar is a surefire way to do so. From the BMW M1 to the V-12-powered, carbon-fiber-chassis supercar concept known as the Nazca C2, the Bavarian automaker has come close but never quite produced a bonafide production supercar, instead focusing on a balanced road driving experience.

bmw concept skytop

BMW's head designer, Adrian van Hooydonk, says this continued lack of supercar offerings happens for a reason. Speaking to media at the 2024 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, the design lead said that the BMW experience is characterized by its customers as one of consistent, daily driving enjoyment. This is apparent in the automaker's current lineup—whether electrified or M-badged—as the Bavarians focus on spacious-yet-lightning-quick people movers and daily-driver performance cars.


A similar principle carries over into BMW's concept car designs. van Hooydonk explained that he believes the whole point of a concept car is to stoke the customer base and expand what they think of as a BMW, even if they can't afford it or perhaps don't agree with it.

"I think, for the brands and also for our customers, it's nice if there is something floating around where they go, 'actually it's nice that that company is doing that,'" van Hooydonk said of BMW's historic concept models. "These kinds of cars of course you can take a bit more liberty and push the design a little bit."

Beyond the focus on a degree of attainability, the lead designer also said that the supercar space, particularly in concept form, is tired. BMW did indeed produce an M1 homage concept back in 2008, with the company alluding to the concept's capacity for a V-8 or even the legendary S85 V-10 out of the E60 M5. But van Hooydonk's opinion is that BMW should focus on beauty and design over hardcore performance, at least for its Concours-destined concept cars.

"It's not that we couldn't tackle that topic, " van Hooydonk said regarding supercar design. "But that seems to be a space that everybody showed up now and then goes in and tries to outdo each other. It's a battleground."

The designer also said that he feels the mechanical conceptions of what modern supercars are seem to be changing by the week, as electrification takes hold.

"Certainly right now, it's not so clear what kind of drivetrain you should put in that type of car. So, here at Villa d'Este, we just want it to be about beauty and design."

van Hooydonk added that the topic of high-performance vehicle powerplants is a debate that the whole BMW team has weekly.

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